A meta-analysis of gene expression quantitative trait loci in brain.
ABSTRACT: Current catalogs of brain expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) are incomplete and the findings do not replicate well across studies. All existing cortical eQTL studies are small and emphasize the need for a meta-analysis. We performed a meta-analysis of 424 brain samples across five studies to identify regulatory variants influencing gene expression in human cortex. We identified 3584 genes in autosomes and chromosome X with false discovery rate q<0.05 whose expression was significantly associated with DNA sequence variation. Consistent with previous eQTL studies, local regulatory variants tended to occur symmetrically around transcription start sites and the effect was more evident in studies with large sample sizes. In contrast to random SNPs, we observed that significant eQTLs were more likely to be near 5'-untranslated regions and intersect with regulatory features. Permutation-based enrichment analysis revealed that SNPs associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were enriched among brain eQTLs. Genes with significant eQTL evidence were also strongly associated with diseases from OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) and the NHGRI (National Human Genome Research Institute) genome-wide association study catalog. Surprisingly, we found that a large proportion (28%) of ~1000 autosomal genes encoding proteins needed for mitochondrial structure or function were eQTLs (enrichment P-value=1.3 × 10(-9)), suggesting a potential role for common genetic variation influencing the robustness of energy supply in brain and a possible role in the etiology of some psychiatric disorders. These systematically generated eQTL information should be a valuable resource in determining the functional mechanisms of brain gene expression and the underlying biology of associations with psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Most signals detected by genome-wide association studies map to non-coding sequence and their tissue-specific effects influence transcriptional regulation. However, key tissues and cell-types required for functional inference are absent from large-scale resources. Here we explore the relationship between genetic variants influencing predisposition to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related glycemic traits, and human pancreatic islet transcription using data from 420 donors. We find: (a) 7741 cis-eQTLs in islets with a replication rate across 44 GTEx tissues between 40% and 73%; (b) marked overlap between islet cis-eQTL signals and active regulatory sequences in islets, with reduced eQTL effect size observed in the stretch enhancers most strongly implicated in GWAS signal location; (c) enrichment of islet cis-eQTL signals with T2D risk variants identified in genome-wide association studies; and (d) colocalization between 47 islet cis-eQTLs and variants influencing T2D or glycemic traits, including DGKB and TCF7L2. Our findings illustrate the advantages of performing functional and regulatory studies in disease relevant tissues.
Project description:Measurement of gene expression levels and detection of eQTLs (expression quantitative trait loci) are difficult in tissues with limited sample availability, such as the brain. However, eQTL overlap between tissues might be high, which would allow for inference of eQTL functioning in the brain via eQTLs detected in readily accessible tissues, e.g. whole blood. Applying Stratified Linkage Disequilibrium Score Regression (SLDSR), we quantified the enrichment in polygenic signal of blood and brain eQTLs in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of 11 complex traits. We looked at eQTLs discovered in 44 tissues by the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) consortium and two other large representative studies, and found no tissue-specific eQTL effects. Next, we integrated the GTEx eQTLs with regions associated with tissue-specific histone modifiers, and interrogated their effect on rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia. We observed substantially enriched effects of eQTLs located inside regions bearing modification H3K4me1 on schizophrenia, but not rheumatoid arthritis, and not tissue-specific. Finally, we extracted eQTLs associated with tissue-specific differentially expressed genes and determined their effects on rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia, these analysis revealed limited enrichment of eQTLs associated with gene specifically expressed in specific tissues. Our results pointed to strong enrichment of eQTLs in their effect on complex traits, without evidence for tissue-specific effects. Lack of tissue-specificity can be either due to a lack of statistical power or due to the true absence of tissue-specific effects. We conclude that eQTLs are strongly enriched in GWAS signal and that the enrichment is not specific to the eQTL discovery tissue. Until sample sizes for eQTL discovery grow sufficiently large, working with relatively accessible tissues as proxy for eQTL discovery is sensible and restricting lookups for GWAS hits to a specific tissue for which limited samples are available might not be advisable.
Project description:Gene expression genetic studies in human tissues and cells identify cis- and trans-acting expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). These eQTLs provide insights into regulatory mechanisms underlying disease risk. However, few studies systematically characterized eQTL results across cell and tissues types. We synthesized eQTL results from >50 datasets, including new primary data from human brain, peripheral plaque and kidney samples, in order to discover features of human eQTLs.We find a substantial number of robust cis-eQTLs and far fewer trans-eQTLs consistent across tissues. Analysis of 45 full human GWAS scans indicates eQTLs are enriched overall, and above nSNPs, among positive statistical signals in genetic mapping studies, and account for a significant fraction of the strongest human trait effects. Expression QTLs are enriched for gene centricity, higher population allele frequencies, in housekeeping genes, and for coincidence with regulatory features, though there is little evidence of 5' or 3' positional bias. Several regulatory categories are not enriched including microRNAs and their predicted binding sites and long, intergenic non-coding RNAs. Among the most tissue-ubiquitous cis-eQTLs, there is enrichment for genes involved in xenobiotic metabolism and mitochondrial function, suggesting these eQTLs may have adaptive origins. Several strong eQTLs (CDK5RAP2, NBPFs) coincide with regions of reported human lineage selection. The intersection of new kidney and plaque eQTLs with related GWAS suggest possible gene prioritization. For example, butyrophilins are now linked to arterial pathogenesis via multiple genetic and expression studies. Expression QTL and GWAS results are made available as a community resource through the NHLBI GRASP database [http://apps.nhlbi.nih.gov/grasp/].Expression QTLs inform the interpretation of human trait variability, and may account for a greater fraction of phenotypic variability than protein-coding variants. The synthesis of available tissue eQTL data highlights many strong cis-eQTLs that may have important biologic roles and could serve as positive controls in future studies. Our results indicate some strong tissue-ubiquitous eQTLs may have adaptive origins in humans. Efforts to expand the genetic, splicing and tissue coverage of known eQTLs will provide further insights into human gene regulation.
Project description:The genome-wide association study of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium identified over one hundred schizophrenia susceptibility loci. The number of non-coding variants discovered suggests that gene regulation could mediate the effect of these variants on disease. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) contribute to variation in levels of mRNA. Given the co-occurrence of schizophrenia and several traits not involving the central nervous system (CNS), we investigated the enrichment of schizophrenia associations among eQTLs for four non-CNS tissues: adipose tissue, epidermal tissue, lymphoblastoid cells and blood. Significant enrichment was seen in eQTLs of all tissues: adipose (? = 0.18, p = 8.8 × 10-06), epidermal (? = 0.12, p = 3.1 × 10-04), lymphoblastoid (? = 0.19, p = 6.2 × 10-08) and blood (? = 0.19, p = 6.4 × 10-06). For comparison, we looked for enrichment of association with traits of known relevance to one or more of these tissues (body mass index, height, rheumatoid arthritis, systolic blood pressure and type-II diabetes) and found that schizophrenia enrichment was of similar scale to that observed when studying diseases in the context of a more likely causal tissue. To further investigate tissue specificity, we looked for differential enrichment of eQTLs with relevant Roadmap affiliation (enhancers and promoters) and varying distance from the transcription start site. Neither factor significantly contributed to the enrichment, suggesting that this is equally distributed in tissue-specific and cross-tissue regulatory elements. Our analyses suggest that functional correlates of schizophrenia risk are prevalent in non-CNS tissues. This could be because of pleiotropy or the effectiveness of variants affecting expression in different contexts. This suggests the utility of large, single-tissue eQTL experiments to increase eQTL discovery power in the study of schizophrenia, in addition to smaller, multiple-tissue approaches. Our results conform to the notion that schizophrenia is a systemic disorder involving many tissues.
Project description:While genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed thousands of disease risk single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), their functions remain largely unknown. Recent studies have suggested the regulatory roles of GWAS risk variants in several common diseases; however, the complex regulatory structure in prostate cancer is unclear. We investigated the potential regulatory roles of risk variants in two prostate cancer GWAS datasets by their interactions with expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and/or transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) in three populations. Our results indicated that the moderately associated GWAS SNPs were significantly enriched with cis-eQTLs and TFBSs in Caucasians (CEU), but not in African Americans (AA) or Japanese (JPT); this was also observed in an independent pan-cancer related SNPs from the GWAS Catalog. We found that the eQTL enrichment in the CEU population was tissue-specific to eQTLs from CEU lymphoblastoid cell lines. Importantly, we pinpointed two SNPs, rs2861405 and rs4766642, by overlapping results from cis-eQTL and TFBS as applied to the CEU data. These results suggested that prostate cancer associated SNPs and pan-cancer associated SNPs are likely to play regulatory roles in CEU. However, the negative enrichment results in AA or JPT and the potential mechanisms remain to be elucidated in additional samples.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies have generated an increasing number of common genetic variants associated with neurological and psychiatric disease risk. An improved understanding of the genetic control of gene expression in human brain is vital considering this is the likely modus operandum for many causal variants. However, human brain sampling complexities limit the explanatory power of brain-related expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and allele-specific expression (ASE) signals. We address this, using paired genomic and transcriptomic data from putamen and substantia nigra from 117 human brains, interrogating regulation at different RNA processing stages and uncovering novel transcripts. We identify disease-relevant regulatory loci, find that splicing eQTLs are enriched for regulatory information of neuron-specific genes, that ASEs provide cell-specific regulatory information with evidence for cellular specificity, and that incomplete annotation of the brain transcriptome limits interpretation of risk loci for neuropsychiatric disease. This resource of regulatory data is accessible through our web server, http://braineacv2.inf.um.es/.
Project description:The identification of cis-acting regulatory variation in primary tissues has the potential to elucidate the genetic basis of complex traits and further our understanding of transcriptomic diversity across cell types. Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) association analysis using RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data can improve upon the detection of cis-acting regulatory variation by leveraging allele-specific expression (ASE) patterns in association analysis. Here, we present a comprehensive evaluation of cis-acting eQTLs by analyzing RNA-seq gene-expression data and genome-wide high-density genotypes from 471 samples of normal primary prostate tissue. Using statistical models that integrate ASE information, we identified extensive cis-eQTLs across the prostate transcriptome and found that approximately 70% of expressed genes corresponded to a significant eQTL at a gene-level false-discovery rate of 0.05. Overall, cis-eQTLs were heavily concentrated near the transcription start and stop sites of affected genes, and effects were negatively correlated with distance. We identified multiple instances of cis-acting co-regulation by using phased genotype data and discovered 233 SNPs as the most strongly associated eQTLs for more than one gene. We also noted significant enrichment (25/50, p = 2E-5) of previously reported prostate cancer risk SNPs in prostate eQTLs. Our results illustrate the benefit of assessing ASE data in cis-eQTL analyses by showing better reproducibility of prior eQTL findings than of eQTL mapping based on total expression alone. Altogether, our analysis provides extensive functional context of thousands of SNPs in prostate tissue, and these results will be of critical value in guiding studies examining disease of the human prostate.
Project description:Numerous studies indicate that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have critical functions across biological processes, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) could contribute to diseases or traits through influencing ncRNA expression. However, the associations between SNPs and ncRNA expression are largely unknown. Therefore, genome-wide expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis to assess the effects of SNPs on ncRNA expression, especially in multiple cancer types, will help to understand how risk alleles contribute toward tumorigenesis and cancer development. Using genotype data and expression profiles of ncRNAs of >8700 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we developed a computational pipeline to systematically identify ncRNA-related eQTLs (ncRNA-eQTLs) across 33 cancer types. We identified a total of 6 133 278 and 721 122 eQTL-ncRNA pairs in cis-eQTL and trans-eQTL analyses, respectively. Further survival analyses identified 8312 eQTLs associated with patient survival times. Furthermore, we linked ncRNA-eQTLs to genome-wide association study (GWAS) data and found 262 332 ncRNA-eQTLs overlapping with known disease- and trait-associated loci. Finally, a user-friendly database, ncRNA-eQTL (http://ibi.hzau.edu.cn/ncRNA-eQTL), was developed for free searching, browsing and downloading of all ncRNA-eQTLs. We anticipate that such an integrative and comprehensive resource will improve our understanding of the mechanistic basis of human complex phenotypic variation, especially for ncRNA- and cancer-related studies.
Project description:Interpreting the susceptible loci documented by genome-wide association studies (GWASs) is of utmost importance in the post-GWAS era. Since most complex traits are contributed by multiple tissues, analyzing tissue-specific effects of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) is a promising approach. Here we describe "opposite eQTL effects", i.e., gene expression effects of eQTLs that are in the opposite direction between different tissues, as the biologically meaningful annotations of genes and genetic variants for understanding the GWAS loci. The genes and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the opposite eQTL effects (opp-multi-eQTL-Genes and opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs) were extracted from the largest eQTL database provided by the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project (release version 7). The opposite eQTL effects were detected even between closely related tissues such as cerebellum and brain cortex, and a significant proportion of the genes having eQTLs were annotated as the opp-multi-eQTL-Genes (2,323 out of 31,212; 7.4%). The opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs showed locational enrichment at the transcription start site and also possible involvement of epigenetic regulation. The biological importance of the opposite eQTL effects was also assessed using the SNPs reported in GWASs (GWAS-SNPs), which demonstrated that a high proportion of the opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium with the GWAS-SNPs (2,498 out of 9,290; 26.9%). Based on the results, the opposite eQTL effects can be a common phenomenon in the tissue-specific gene regulation with a possible contribution to the development of complex traits.
Project description:Disease-associated loci identified through genome-wide association studies (GWAS) frequently localize to non-coding sequence. We and others have demonstrated strong enrichment of such single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), supporting an important role for regulatory genetic variation in complex disease pathogenesis. Herein we describe our initial efforts to develop a predictive model of disease-associated variants leveraging eQTL information. We first catalogued cis-acting eQTLs (SNPs within 100 kb of target gene transcripts) by meta-analyzing four studies of three blood-derived tissues (n = 586). At a false discovery rate < 5%, we mapped eQTLs for 6,535 genes; these were enriched for disease-associated genes (P < 10(-04)), particularly those related to immune diseases and metabolic traits. Based on eQTL information and other variant annotations (distance from target gene transcript, minor allele frequency, and chromatin state), we created multivariate logistic regression models to predict SNP membership in reported GWAS. The complete model revealed independent contributions of specific annotations as strong predictors, including evidence for an eQTL (odds ratio (OR) = 1.2-2.0, P < 10(-11)) and the chromatin states of active promoters, different classes of strong or weak enhancers, or transcriptionally active regions (OR = 1.5-2.3, P < 10(-11)). This complete prediction model including eQTL association information ultimately allowed for better discrimination of SNPs with higher probabilities of GWAS membership (6.3-10.0%, compared to 3.5% for a random SNP) than the other two models excluding eQTL information. This eQTL-based prediction model of disease relevance can help systematically prioritize non-coding GWAS SNPs for further functional characterization.